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S.P.E.W. Social Justice Mini-Conference Fall 2017: Suggested Topics

A list of potential topics. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are suggestions to get you started.


Call for proposals EXTENDED-- due September 29th

Conference dates: October 30, November 1 & 3, 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m., Stallworth Dining Room

sponsored by the Houghton Memorial Library

Harry Potter Topics

Social Justice Issues in Harry Potter (and how they can be related to our world):

  • Blood Status

  • The Rise of Voldemort into power

  • House Elf enslavement

  • Prejudice against centaurs and werewolves

  • The mostly quiet takeover of the Ministry of Magic by death eaters and the subsequent horror of the “Muggleborn Registration Comission

  • The Muggleborn Registration Commission

  • Biased and ill-reported news in the Daily Prophet

  • Potterwatch and rogue news broadcasts (Authority and who has it)

  • The Concept of love conquering all

  • How to be a Neville Longbottom

  • Dumbledore’s Army

  • The Order of the Pheonix

  • Aurors (aka wizard cops) and the role they played in the ministry and how they subverted that role (like Kingsley Shacklebolt)

  • The Battle of Hogwarts

  • Dolores Umbridge and her edicts, views on punishment in schools, and how/why she’s more hated than Voldemort by fans


Social Justice Movements/Events

  • Black Lives Matter

  • Women’s Movement (including recent Marches)

    • Possible resources to consult::  

      • Poem About My Rights by June Jordan

      • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

      • Response to the Most Illustrious Poetess Sor Filotea de la Cruz by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

      • Writings of Christine de Pizan

      • Ms and Bitch magazines (print issues available in the Library)

  • 99%

  • LGBTQ+

    • Possible sources to consult:

      • The Advocate and Curve magazines (print issues available in the Library)

  • “Occupy” movement

  • Code Pink

  • Civil Rights Movement

    • Possible readings to consult:

      • Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

      • The Autobiography of Malcolm X

      • Can You See Them? by Pearl Cleage

      • Various writings related to how white churches responded to the Civil Rights Movement (our own college archives can be a resource)

      • Writings of the Black Panthers

  • Dakota Pipeline/Native American movements

    • Native Hawaiian sovereignty movement

  • Animal/Environmental Rights movements

  • Peace movements

  • Arab Spring

  • Ecofeminism

  • Anti-Apartheid

  • Disability Rights movements

  • Mens’ Rights Movement

  • Sex-positive Movement

  • Global Suffrage movements

  • Anti-Slavery movements

  • Farm Aid

  • Band Aid/Live Aid

  • Human Trafficking movements

  • Local community movements​

  • Sanctuary movements (cities, churches)

Colleges & Sports


  • Financial profit vs player well-being

  • Social justice protests related to international competitions (e.g. Olympics)

  • Response to social justice issues by individual athletes or teams

    • Refusing to play

    • Wearing special insignias

    • The ousting of Kaepernick by the NFL)


  • Social Justice issues addressed in college curriculums

  • Athletics - representation/treatment of various minorities

  • Sexual violence on school/college campuses

  • Use of Native American mascots

  • Free Speech controversies

  • Treatment of Transgender students

  • Issue of Microaggressions

  • Trigger warnings

Social Justice Organizations

Social Justice Organizations and their roles in society

  • HPA (The Harry Potter Alliance)

  • SPLC

  • ACLU

  • HRC

  • NOW

  • The Malala Fund

  • UN commissions (various)

  • Organizations of the past

  • Local organizations (small and large)



  • Healthcare

  • Freedom of speech

  • Surveillance of regular citizens (both on camera and via the computer)

  • Civil Rights legislation

  • Sanctuary cities


Prison issues:

  • Overcrowding

  • Poor living conditions

  • Physical and verbal abuse of inmates

  • Sexual assault from fellow prisoners and/or guards

  • Mental health professional accessibility

  • The SHU

  • Rights to education

Flyers & Call for proposals

Technology, Media, and the Internet


  • The ethics of tech work

  • Where tech comes from and how it gets made

  • Treatment of women in the tech industry


  • Representation, misrepresentation, and/or underrepresentation of minority groups in:

    • Comic books

    • Literature

    • TV

    • Film

    • The News

    • Performance Art

    • Fine Art


  • Gamergate

  • Doxxing

  • Consistent use of slurs, hate speech, and insults in online gaming venues

  • Underage players being sexually harassed verbally in online gaming venues

  • Players being harassed and/or threatened for gender, identity, sexuality, or race in online gaming venues

  • Sexual harassment over live chat when gender/sexuality is known


  • Net Neutrality

  • Surveillance & the chill effect on searching

  • Online discrimination via algorithms

  • Trolling

  • Online Hate Crimes

  • Cyberbullying

Liberal Arts & Humanities

Oh, the Humanities!

  • Social Justice issues as expressed/explored in Works of Literature (childrens, classics, contemporary, international)

  • History: 

  • The glossing over/sweetening/under representing the horrors of history and their role in how a country was shaped

  • The celebration of historical figures that committed atrocities

  • Display of flags

  • Display of monuments

    • Taking down of monuments of historical figures with negative connotations

  • As Represented in the Arts:

  • Visual arts    

    • Possible resource: The Guerrilla Girls

  • Film

  • Music

  • Theater

  • Dance

  • Architecture/design


Social justice as dictated by sacred religious texts.  A few examples:

  • What do the sacred texts of a religion say about the care of the poor? The orphaned? The widowed(r/d)? The old? The non-religious?

  • How have sacred texts been used to justify the subjugation of certain groups of people? How were they wrong?

  • The popular theology of the ancient world assumed that wealth and prosperity went hand in hand with right living (example: Prosperity gospel). Is this view just?

  • Issue of the very nature of justice:

    • Is justice simply the will of the all-powerful Creator, or can it be measured by standards that humanity can recognize?

  • Does God comply with human conceptions of justice?

  • Possible resources to consult:

    • The Good Book by Peter Gomes, the Book of Job

    • Sojourners magazine (print issues available in the Library)



  • Corporate America's social justice responsibilities
    • Possible resources to consult:
      • The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits by Milton Friedman
      • Justice as Fairness by John Rawls
      • The Ford Pinto Memo
      • Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts by Karl Marx
      • Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich​
  • Global corporate issues related to social justice

Hate Crimes

Mass Shootings & bombings in recent history:

  • Charlottesville

  • Charleston, S.C.

  • Pulse Nightclub

  • Sikh Temple Shooting in oak creek, wisconsin

  • Colorado Springs bombing of the NAACP

  • Jacksonville, FL bombing of an islamic center

  • Glendale, Arizona bombing of a mosque by a chemical bomb

  • (


Questions? Email:

Ms. Crumbley at or

Prof. Kidwell at